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From David Freeman
Say hello to Hippocampus, a heavenly pipsack that makes great waves on the edge of our solar system. With the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have confirmed the existence of this small moon in orbit around Neptune.
Only 20 miles in diameter, the newly named moon ̵
Hippocampus was first seen in photos taken by Hubble in 2013. But its presence – located near a much bigger moon known as the Proteus mystery: Why Hippocampus has not merged or been rejected by Proteus , a 260-mile wide moon that is approximately 1000 times more massive? Some call it S / 2004 N1, as the Hippocamp was originally known as "The Moon That Should not Be There." But after a few years of search – including a fresh look at the images of the Neptune system taken from Hubble and NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft – astronomers led by SEAT Institute's Mark Shawlter in Mountain View, Calif., Found that Hippocamp is a part of Proteus that has been cut off by the larger moon when a comet hit it billions of years ago.
There is no smoking for such an ancient collision. But, as Shawleiter and his colleagues say in a study article published on Thursday in the journal Nature, a large crater of a comet strike can be seen in Proteus pictures taken in 1989 by the spacecraft NASA Voyager 2.
"The origin script we discussed in the report is consistent with everything we know about the history of the Neptune system," said Shawlater to NBC News MACH in an email. "This is the only applicable scenario, which we have identified. On the other hand, if someone else in the astronomical community come up with an alternative explanation, we'd like to hear about it. "
This is a great prelude to such a Little Moon, but other astronomers agree that this is probably the right one
Sara Sigger, a MIT planetary scientist at Cambridge, MA, said in an e-mail that the explanation makes sense, calling it an "overwhelming hypothesis about the origin of the tiny moon-with firm support from Hubble's data collected over the past few years."  This diagram shows the orbits of several nearby moons to the planet Neptune NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft except Hippocamp (S / 2004 N 1) Found in archive images of the Hubble Space Telescope from 2004 to 2009 NASA / ESA / A Feild STScI)
Hundreds In our solar system are moons discovered, but the pair of Proteus-Hippocampus "gives a dramatic illustration that the moons are sometimes destroyed by comets," says Jack Lissauer, a scientist at Ames Research Center at NASA in California and co- 19659006] The discovery of Hippocamp brought up to 14 moons, found in orbit around Neptune, has seven gus moons, including the hippocampus, along with six outer moons, the largest moon of Neptune's Triton.
Triton is a bit strange because it is the only moon in the solar system with the so-called retrograde orbit, which means it is going in the opposite direction of the rotation of its planet. almost everything we can say about Hippocamp, at least for the moment. But he added that if NASA or the European Space Agency would place a spaceship in orbit around Neptune or its planetary neighbor, Uranus, "we could learn a few more days that the total sum of everything we have learned about one of the planets,
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